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Heavyweight vs. Lightweight Mobile Device Management


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December 14, 2011

Heavyweight vs. Lightweight Mobile Device Management

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Mobile device management is a complex field, and IT pros, as a recent post discussed, are under increasing pressure to find ways to let people use their own tablets and smartphones, while simultaneously protecting the enterprise from data attacks.

Industry observer Joe Fernandez writes in the post that “the need for enterprise MDM is evident.” Indeed, he’s correct – as he says, “MDM software secures, monitors and manages an array of personal and enterprise-issued mobile devices.”

He notes that Android (News - Alert) devices are targeted, and says cyber criminals “are increasingly using these mobile devices to spread malware code.” How bad is it? According to Fernandez, “The number of smartphones and tablets suffering from mobile malware increased by 273 percent in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.”

That’s a heck of an increase and a recent study from Juniper Networks (News - Alert) corroborates that with even more eye-popping numbers, finding that Android devices have seen a 472 percent surge in the number of new viruses crafted to attack them since July.

Mobile device management apps continue to proliferate, however, with many differing approaches and features. Fernandez quotes Phillip Redman, vice president of research at Gartner (News - Alert), who co-authored the “Critical Capabilities for Mobile Device Management” report, commenting that the “the rapid evolution of mobile devices and business requirements makes it difficult to identify a clear set of MDM requirements.”

In fact, Redman says there are “lightweight” and “heavyweight” categories of MDM products, with the lightweight management approach consisting of “systems that are limited and where deep control is not accepted by employees using personal devices,” according to Fernandez. Examples here would be systems with a small mobile agent running on the device, but not a complete mobile management client, such as offerings from Zenprise (News - Alert), Fiberlink and AirWatch, he says.

As you might guess, then, a heavyweight management approach would be systems that, in Fernandez’s words, “deliver secure and manageable corporate email to consumer and personal devices when strict security and compliance requirements apply,” such as Good Technology, Excitor and Sybase’s (News - Alert) products.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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